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  • Writer's pictureGina Greenlee, Author

The Recovering Overfunctioner’s Commandments

Gina Greenlees Overfunctioners Revolution

Thou Shalt Not Script, Production Design,

and then Rehearse Scenes from Imagined Slights and Conflicts.

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Thou Shalt Not Plan for Disappointment.

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Thou Shalt Return Non-Emergency Phone Calls

within a 24 to 72 Hour Period, which is,

in Many Instances, Perfectly Reasonable.

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Thou Shalt Not Coach or Offer “Advice.” Period.

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Thou Shalt Not Make Up Stories about People.

(Because 90 Percent of the Time, Thou is Wrong)

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Thou Shalt Say, “No Thank You” without Explanation

to Any and All Invitations that Don’t Ring Thy Chimes.

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Thou Shalt Not Turn Every Hobby and Joyful Pursuit

into a Business or Competition.

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Thou Shalt Not Ruminate.

That means, no wondering ad nauseam about the whys, wherefores and whereabouts of people who poof (disappear). No more “chasing” people who are non-responders to overtures. That includes mentally investing energy wondering when I might hear from them. Focus instead on the people who are responsive.

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Thou Shalt Not Fill in Silences During Conversations.

Silence is natural and allows for full digestion of information. In American culture, we often talk over one another, focusing on what we want to say in response rather than listening to what is said in the moment. This is like swallowing food whole and leads to indigestion. During conversation I am practicing taking my time, chewing on what I’ve heard to a 10-second count. Then a deep inhale before I begin speaking.

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Thou Shalt Turn off One’s Phone, or the Ringer to Silent

When One Wishes to Focus on a Singular Activity.

No need to be “on call” 365, 24/7. I am not a world-renowned pediatric neurosurgeon. No one depends on me for their wellbeing.

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Thou Shalt Listen More, Talk Less.

A woman at my day job asked me about my walking habit: how far did I travel and did I sweat. All I had to do was share the distance covered, and to the sweat question answer “yes.” Instead I offered that I walked daily at lunch because it helped me to live well with depression. Too. Much. Information. No shame around depression; I’m long past that. Rather, overinforming is overfunctioning. In recovery, I am practicing answering questions directly with no elaboration.

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Thou Shalt Not Attempt to Predict the Behavior of Others.

Respond in the Moment.

One of the reasons I experience disappointment when I overfunction is because I am responding to a script in my head, an unrealized expectation instead of what’s right in front of me.

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Thou Shalt Allow Oneself to Be Missed.

No calls to Leslie while I was on vacation. I spoke with her the day before I left. She said, “If you want to chat or say hello, feel free to call.” I love Leslie in that true agape spirit and I’ve been going overboard in my attention toward her. I need to put some air in between those times I call, send emails or send by post paper dolls that I design and create.

She called me the Sunday after I returned from Georgia. My phone was off. I slept most of the day as I had intended, much needed deep rest to assimilate the novelty and adventure of the previous seven days. When on Monday I turned on the phone, Leslie had called. She was thinking of me; said she had missed my energy.

That’s a healthy sign as well as useful information. There appears to be mutual desire to engage. I am learning, through this journey of potential friends, how to pace engagement when I’m drawn to someone rather than pummel them with behavioral sales pitches about my friendship.

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Thou Shalt Not Lunge at Hints.

If you want to get together, ask me. Directly. I no longer respond to hints: “We should get together; call me sometime; let’s have coffee/lunch someday soon.” I have no clue why people drop invitational hints rather than ask directly. And that’s okay because making up stories about the complexities of people’s behavior is overfunctioning. Whatever the reasons, they are none of my business. My business is how I respond – only to direct invitations, not intimations.

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Tough Love Practices for Not Giving Yourself Away


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